• Benjamin

Medication and the Mountain Climb

A brief snippet into my view on self-improvement and mental illness.

Everyone has an opinion on Medication, and honestly most of it is valid. The problem then comes when we insist on pushing our opinion on others. This manifests in my life mostly in "Well you seem fine, you sure you need medication? Everyone wants medication for some easy solution." That's not to say it's all I hear on the topic, but this is what effects me most.


It took a very long time for me to start the climb, I refused to accept any help. This meant my mental illness ran rampant for a very long time. I had amazing days, well manic days, where I seemed the most "normal." I would suddenly appear in peoples lives again with grand ideas of the future, and how that was it, I felt better and it wasn't leaving. That's the bipolar speaking, because behind each month of clarity, hid months of darkness, months of barely leaving the bed or replying to messages. I would drop off the earth for months at a time, and I just thought that was normal.


We always come back as people to the boulder analogy. We roll the rock up the hill, it rolls back down, we do it again. Now imagine if your mountain was damn near vertical, and while you were pushing the boulder two other versions of yourself were smacking you with golf clubs.


I am proud and open about my treatment. It makes some people uncomfortable, and that is fine, we're all at different places in our lives. I've been on and off Seroquel for as long as I can remember, I've always had horrid nightmares; and that was when I could sleep. Those pills helped calm me at night, helped make the doom and dread feel at least a little far away. As I slept peacefully, and more consistently, the mountain seemed a little less steep.


Next I was on Cymbalta, mostly for nerve pain, but it also helped those deep dark moments, those moments where you sit alone in silence. Those moments where your future seems non-existent. Suddenly, I wasn't in pain all the time, and those moments became lesser in frequency; and the mountain seemed less steep.


Then a revelation hit me, and for the first time in my adult life, I asked for help. I realized that at my current strength, I just couldn't roll up that damn boulder anymore. I reached out to family, and I contacted a therapist.


I was on Lithium next (which terrified me, am I gonna become a battery??) The doctor told me that it was the most effective treatment for Bipolar for a VERY long time. The side effects were intense, and it meant I couldn't drink anymore; but if it helped it would be more than worth it. As we slowly increased the dose, I found less and less deep dives into depressive episodes, and I felt able to feel happiness and excitement; without the mania. I was happier for longer periods, and wiped for shorter periods. Then, the mountain felt even less steep.


I attended therapy, first once every few weeks, and as I got comfortable, once weekly. We kept this up until recently, where I have been able to graduate to bi-weekly again. (Quick note, Ontario does not care about mental health right now, so it took A LOT of hoops to jump through) This time I had to put in the hard work, this was one of the final pieces needed to be put into place. The mountain was no longer that steep, however there was still the other me's trying to sabotage my journey. Therapy helped with that, I learned to accept my feelings, and filter my reactions to these feelings. I also learned where these feelings were coming from, and confronted them head on as they came. Suddenly, I was left to myself, and I could push that boulder.


Not everyone's mountains are the same. Some people will just have an average sized mountain to push their boulders up. Some of our mountains take more work, and sometimes its okay to ask for help if you're not able to scale your mountain right now.


No, I don't believe every person needs medication, or even every person with mental illness, but sometimes it is okay to accept it if you need help. Sometimes we're sabotaged by our own brain before we can even begin the journey, or you no longer have the energy to continue the journey. This is why it is so important to de-stigmatize the need for help, everyone is on their own journey, so please don't judge others; compassion is what will keep us going.


Anyway, have a fantastic day!

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© Copyright 2019, Benjamin Imlau